These individuals, our faithful ministers and other dedicated church workers, also trust that they will be able to live with dignity both in their years of service and after their active service to the church has ended.
The Assistance Program administered by The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seeks to honor their faith and commitment, by upholding a promise the church has made to care for ministers and their families. This promise dates back to 1717, with the establishment of the Fund for Pious Uses.
The Assistance Program carries on this tradition of care by fulfilling our responsibility, assigned by the General Assembly, to help church workers whose financial needs exceed the scope of the benefits plan, and to provide retirement housing assistance for eligible retirees and their spouses.
Because church workers often earn very modest salaries, support provided in the form of Assistance Program grants frequently turns out to be critically important in paying for emergency medical expenses and in helping retirees on fixed incomes afford decent housing and pay other living expenses.
The Assistance Program helps current and retired church workers by providing grants and other programs to meet both their changing and constant assistance needs. Shared and emergency grants are two such programs that provide help with unexpected needs. Income supplements and housing supplements are also available to qualifying retirees and their surviving spouses. Following are brief descriptions of each:
Shared grants are generally intended to assist active and retired church workers and their spouses with a one-time, special financial need. Typically, shared grants are initiated (recommended) by a governing body or an employing organization that is willing to share equally with the board in the cost of providing the grant. The need may be extraordinary medical or mental health care expenses, or any number of special situations. An emergency assistance grant may be awarded when a governing body or employing organization cannot participate in a shared grant because of insufficient funds.
Income supplements are designed to augment the monthly income of eligible retired church workers and their surviving spouses whose total income from all sources is below levels established by the board.
Housing supplements provide financial assistance to help eligible retirees remain in their own homes or move to retirement facilities when their personal resources are insufficient to meet their needs and they qualify for the assistance.
Recipients of these grants often call or write to express their gratitude and share their stories of how the Assistance Program’s financial support helped them to weather life’s storms, sometimes when it seemed they had exhausted all options.
One appreciative beneficiary wrote, “I want to express my gratitude for helping me with a monthly income supplement—it has come at a most-needed time, and I appreciate the Board of Pensions for that.”
Another wrote, “I write to express to the Board and to all previous donors my deep appreciation. I am humbled but also extremely grateful to God and to the Church for such provision.”
Unlike the benefits plan, which is funded by dues, the Assistance Program relies on the generosity of Presbyterians. The Assistance Program is funded by gifts and bequests, income from endowments, and half of the Christmas Joy Offering.
Over the years, the Assistance Program has appreciated the kindness shown by Presbyterians in providing the means to offer this kind of support. In recognizing the personal sacrifices made by our faithful church workers, we Presbyterians honor their significant and selfless ministry – to the church, and to each of us, in helping us to better understand and thereby strengthen our faith.
For additional information on the grants mentioned above, plus other ways in which the Assistance Program helps church workers in need, visit Pensions.org.
In 2010, the Assistance Program distributed 604 grants for income supplements and housing supplements, for a total of more than $4.5 million. In terms of monetary value, this represents more than three quarters of the grants distributed by the Assistance Program in 2010